Texas Rangers' Best Prospect at Every Position at the Start of 2015
One prospect who has a chance of making the Opening Day roster, per B/R's MLB prospects lead writer Mike Rosenbaum in his January article, is Michael Choice. Choice could see himself as a platoon player at the designated hitter spot and in the outfield.
With the injury to Derek Holland, a prospect like first-round pick Alex Gonzalez could find his way to an extended roster spot on the MLB, which would negate his prospect status for 2015. Gonzalez, however, doesn't have history on his side when it comes to making the majors less than one year after getting drafted.
According to Matt Stamp's April 2010 article at Examiner.com, Darren Dreifort of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1994 was the last player to skip the minor leagues prior to Cincinnati Reds pitcher Mike Leake doing it in 2010.
One player that will be considered a prospect in 2015 is catcher Jorge Alfaro. Alfaro is the Rangers' No. 1 overall prospect and should start the season in Class A.
According to Bernie Pleskoff of MLB.com, Alfaro is an "elite catching prospect." With that being said, he should most likely end the 2014 season in Class AA or even Class AAA, but with Geovany Soto and J.P. Arencibia in Arlington as catchers, Alfaro won't make it further.
Here's a look at all the Rangers' top prospects who will be the best at each position in 2015.
Starting Pitcher: Alex Gonzalez
Even if Alex Gonzalez makes it to the big-league club in 2014, he shouldn't be expected to stay for long. While it's not out of the picture, it's highly unlikely. Gonzalez pitched for Oral Roberts University in 2013 before the Rangers selected him in the first round of the 2013 MLB draft.
Compared to many prospects, Gonzalez has experience on a high level.
The farm system should expect a huge 2014 season from Gonzalez, and he could make a push for the overall top prospect in 2015. If the Rangers don't rush Gonzalez, he should truly arrive to the majors in 2016.
Relief Pitcher: Luke Jackson
Luke Jackson is another experienced pitcher with four years of minor league experience under his belt at age 22.
"(Jackson's) fastball sits 93-95 mph and is thrown with weight on steep downhill plane," Rosenbaum wrote, adding that it "can scrape 96-98 mph and holds velocity deep into starts."
Jackson should be able to dominate Class AA and make a push for the MLB at the end of the 2014 season. Going into 2015, he should remain a top prospect, but he may not have a huge role until 2016.
Catcher: Jorge Alfaro
In Pleskoff's November 2013 article, he discusses what makes Alfaro elite.
In addition to his offensive skills, he has an absolute cannon for an arm. His throws have carry with accuracy. I timed Alfaro at 1.83 seconds from the time the ball hit his glove to the time the ball hit the glove of the second baseman. That should nail plenty of runners, provided his pitcher gives him a chance. Usually, anything less than 1.5 seconds from the pitcher on the mound to the catcher should be sufficient—especially with a pop time like Alfaro has displayed.
As Alfaro progresses through the minors, his pop time should decrease just a little.
Texas Rangers' great backstop Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez debuted for the club at age 19. Although Alfaro won't accomplish a similar feat, he should draw many comparisons to the former catcher as he his journey continues to Arlington.
First Base: Ronald Guzman
Ronald Guzman might not ever make it up to the MLB with the Rangers. All-star first baseman Prince Fielder has seven more years remaining on his contract, so throughout the next couple of years, look for Guzman to be traded away.
Here's a quick scouting report from a January 2013 article in The Dallas Morning News' SportsDay DFW:
A pure hitter with a balanced swing, Guzman had fantastic contact rates during his stateside debut last year in the rookie league. His power potential is seen as above average as he fills out, even though he only hit one homer last year.
Guzman should start to peak in about five years. He'll be trade bait for the Rangers until then.
Second Base: Rougned Odor
Rougned Odor has quickly been making a name for himself in the minor leagues. In 2013, Odor hit for a .305 batting average with 11 home runs. He also drove in 78 runs. That's pretty solid power for a second baseman.
Odor came in as the No. 1 prospect per Rosenbaum, who wrote that he expects Odor to be a "first-division player; potential All-Star."
With Jurickson Profar currently holding down second base for the Rangers, one of the other players could be featured in a trade sometime soon.
Third Base: Joey Gallo
Joey Gallo is a powerful prospect. In 2013, he hit 40 home runs in 411 credited times up to the plate. He also had 23 doubles and 88 RBI.
Check the video above to see how powerful he really is.
In his scouting report, Rosenbaum wrote the following about Gallo:
Defense has noticeably improved at the hot corner but needs refinement; range is average and should play up once he gains experience and develops better instincts; plus arm strength is ideal for the position; received consideration as a right-handed pitcher as a high school senior; footwork is still inconsistent and results in unnecessary throwing errors; struggles to find balance between setting feet when throwing and gaining momentum toward target; body control has been a pleasant surprise.
With Adrian Beltre comfortably at third for at least a couple more years, Gallo could first come up as a designated hitter.
Shortstop: Luis Sardinas
In his fourth year in the minor leagues, Luis Sardinas ended up in Class AA with the Frisco RoughRiders.
The shortstop is ultimately behind Elvis Andrus on the Rangers. One huge difference between the two is that Sardinas stands at 6'1" and only weighs 150 pounds, while Andrus weighs 185 pounds at 6'0".
Sardinas is the No. 2 Rangers' prospect on MLB Pipeline. Here's what the site had to say:
He can handle the bat from both sides of the plate, making consistent contact in slashing line drives to all fields. He has terrific defensive skills, with speed that works on the basepaths and gives him excellent range to go along with an outstanding arm. He has played some second base if there’s ever an issue there, but he’ll continue to develop as a shortstop for now.
Sardinas needs to show consistency at the plate to fast track his way through the minors. If he can shine as a shortstop, it might give general manager Jon Daniels ideas to trade away Andrus in the future.
Left Field: Nick Williams
Nick Williams had an excellent season with the Hickory Crawdads of Class A. He hit for a .293 batting average with 17 home runs and 60 RBI. He was listed as a left fielder on the statistics page for the Crawdads. As a left-handed thrower, he will probably remain at that position.
The former second-round draft pick has a bright future ahead. In just a couple more years, he could make an immediate impact with the Rangers if he continues to prove that he's a consistent hitter.
Center Field: Lewis Brinson
Lewis Brinson has a 7/7 under run in the 2013 MLB Prospect Watch. In 2013, Brinson stole 24 bases with the Crawdads of Class A.
Here's a quick bit from MLB Prospect Watch.
Brinson has the potential to use all five tools at the highest level. He’s tall, lanky and athletic, drawing comparisons to Dexter Fowler or Cameron Maybin. With good bat speed, Brinson can spray line drives to the gaps and as he matures, he could develop above-average power given the leverage in his swing.
Weighing only 170 pounds and measuring a height of 6'3", Brinson has plenty to fill. He's raw and should remain the Rangers' top prospect for the next couple of years.
Right Field: Jairo Beras
Jairo Beras still needs to fully experience a minor league season. He only played in 17 professional games, as he was "Suspended by Major League Baseball through July 1, 2013, due to a controversy involving his age," per MiLB.com.
Beras comes in as the No. 7 prospect for the Rangers on MLB Prospect Watch, though.
B/R's Zachary Krueger expects Beras to have a big 2014, according to his October 2013 article.
The fact that he's already considered a top 10 prospect in the organization says a lot about what the young outfielder could be capable of in the future. Expect Beras to start impressing scouts and coaches in 2014 as he looks to be ready for the start of next season.
At 6'5" and 178 pounds, Beras can continue to fill out and become a player to stash away for the future.